Tag: Kate Moss

On Nudes in Fashion

After the EIFF panel that I previously mentioned, I thought about sexual images in fashion. I have become so desensitised to nudity in fashion that I don’t even flinch when I see breasts through a sheer top on the runway or a completely nude photograph of a model in a magazine. Nudity in fashion is normal, and models who go naked are not stigmatised the same way that models in magazines like Playboy are. I think I know why this is. It is all down to who the images are aimed at. Playboy is aimed at men; fashion magazines are aimed at women. Go figure.

If a woman has naked photos leaked, she is called a slut. There is rarely focus on the man who actually leaked the photographs and how awful he is. No, the focus is on the women. Similarly, men are glad to consume images of naked women in magazines like Playboy, in pornography, and in sexualised images like bikini shots but still look down on women who pose for photos like this. Name a female celebrity who hasn’t been stripped down to her underwear or a bikini in a photoshoot. Sex sells, and men like it. The hypocrisy is that they don’t like women owning it, being empowered by it, but they’re happy to look at it.

Fashion photography can be thought of as empowering as it is often a celebration of women. Fashion photos tend to depict beautiful women in beautiful outfits doing beautiful things. When the women are naked, it is an image of their naked body that is not done in a disrespectful way. It can indeed be very discreet. It doesn’t feel invasive or forced. I think this is because the images are made for the female gaze which is often admiring, adoring, and platonic. It may invoke desire, but that desire is not normally sexual. I know that when I see nude images I often think the nudity adds to the photo. Often I don’t know what exactly it adds, but I do think it works. I don’t find it shocking.

I hate when people are nude in images for shock value, because I feel that it isn’t moderately shocking at all. Times have changed. Millions of girls take nude photos and willingly send them to their partners. Girls leak their own nudes online because they are feeling them. Strippers and sex workers are celebrated online. We have reached a new age of female sexual empowerment and women are increasingly refusing to stigmatise other women for doing their thing.

Natasha Poly shot by Terry Richardson

I just wonder where the line is crossed from an artful nude to a trashy nude. Is there a line? I do believe it lies in who is meant to consume the image. I love women celebrating other women. If you look at my Tumblr you’ll probably realise that I am fascinated by women. I think they are beautiful, infinitely more interesting creatures than men. I don’t feel anything sexual towards women. My gaze is one of full admiration. However, I have lots of photographs of nude women on my blog yet I don’t feel like that is shameful, or like it should be shameful. As long as consent is involved, everything is ok.

In fashion, lots of the most famous photographers are men. It isn’t because there aren’t any women photographers (they are less in number, definitely, but still there) that there are so many men, just that they dominate almost all areas of fashion like they do in other industries/life. So my next question is, are nude fashion photographs taken by men any worse than nude fashion photographs taken by women?

There are two distinct sets of photographers: gay and straight. This is the same as designers. The way that the straight photographers take photos will be different than gay and it can be apparent in the final images. Think of the controversial Terry Richardson, who has been accused of sexual assault by various different people he has worked with. He has a bad reputation that I’m sure he has earned for a reason. However, before all of the accusations came out he was one of the most prominent photographers, used by most major magazines. He has shot the majority of big models and various celebrities throughout his career. I actually like some of his work – for example, he has great photos of Lindsay Wixson eating spaghetti – but everything is undeniably sexualised. I also adore Helmut Newton’s images. They are often sexual in content, or at least suggestive, but I don’t look at them in the same way as I look at Terry’s. Nor do I look at the images of Steven Meisel that way. I’m sure if each of the photographers mentioned were given the same brief, the outcome of each set of photos would be completely different. Terry’s would be sexualised and realistic, Helmut’s would be stylised and cool, Meisel’s would be divine (I mean, can he take a bad photograph?).

Lindsey Wixson by Terry Richardson for Vogue Nippon (2011)
Lindsey Wixson by Terry Richardson for Vogue Nippon (2011)

Think about the photographs of a young Kate Moss topless. She was just a child in them. However, I think Corrine Day managed to justify them by saying that they weren’t sexual, because they weren’t supposed to be. Day took many of the photos that made Kate Moss famous back in the 90s, and in many of the images Kate was in various states of undress. The appropriateness of this is an issue for another time, but I do think that Corrine’s images clearly come from a different place than a male photographer’s. They’re not meant to be erotic. They may contain nudity but it is meant in the most natural way.

Kate Moss by Corrine Day for The Face (1990)

Kate Moss has since taken many nude photos. She wasn’t initially keen on it though. I read about her being particularly traumatised by the Calvin Klein adverts with Mark Wahlberg. She was just a young girl in them, yet people all over the world were seeing her naked, wrapped around a muscular man. No matter how famous you are, when you’re young that can be a little bit too much to handle. She also walked topless in a Vivienne Westwood show, licking an ice cream lolly, and covering her bare breasts with one arm. It is easy to think of Kate Moss as someone who doesn’t give a fuck about anything so when I read that she was troubled by some of the photographs and scenarios that she was in as her younger self, I was slightly surprised. She has previously said that if she didn’t do the jobs, she wouldn’t get booked again. That is unfair. You cannot force someone into a compromising situation like that, especially someone so young.

Kate Moss and Mark Wahlberg for Calvin Klein (1992)

I think consent is the crux of the matter, on all things sexual. I do think I sometimes mentally gloss over the shortcomings of fashion photography because I find it so marvellous. The final product that we see in magazines may be beautiful but I truly hope that the models are happy to be a part of that journey. I don’t want to think about other young models who may be in the same situation as Kate Moss was 25 years ago and do things that they don’t want to do out of fear of losing work. That’s not what fashion should be about. Nudity is only empowering if you want it to be, but the most empowering thing is being in control of it and how you are presented to the world. Sometimes I think models are not afforded this privilege, especially if a male photographer presents them in a way that they disagree with morally.

Calvin Klein FW16 Ads – #mycalvins

#mycalvins is everywhere just now. It all started way back when Brooke Shields had the ever-so-risqué campaign with the slogan “nothing comes between me and my Calvins”, meaning her CK jeans. Last season the campaign was revived in the form of the aforementioned hashtag. Cashing in on teenagers who keep buying 90s CK from vintage stores and Urban Outfitters, plus the thousands of girls who now pose on Instagram with their underwear peeking out from their waistband with one man’s name on it, Calvin Klein, the brand, have enlisted celebrities and models to front the latest round of adverts. Once again, Calvin Klein is the it brand.

Last season’s casting drew criticism from Calvin Klein himself, saying that he didn’t like Kendall Jenner (who at the time fronted a campaign – I took a photo of the billboard when I seen it in New York because I actually like the image) but he did like Justin Bieber. Odd. There was also some minor controversy over Fetty Wap’s advert (featuring the slogan “I make money in #mycalvins) or more so, the placement of the advert next to one of a woman who “seduced” in her own ad. People cried gender roles etc. However, I think that was misplaced anger. There are so many other things to be mad about and you’re also probably doing exactly what the marketing department wanted you to do. Adverts are designed to draw attention to the product, and as they say, all publicity is good publicity (at least people are paying attention to it).

At first I thought this whole campaign and the idea behind it was slightly gimmicky, then I was drawn in. Like the iconic images of baby Kate Moss in the 90s, some of these images, I think, will be remembered in the same way. I think this season is even stronger than last. For example, Bella Hadid’s recently released shots with messages like “I mirror you in #mycalvins” are not only stunning images, but are so striking that on a billboard I think they’d make you stop and stare. They’re sexy but not in a trashy way. Very realistic for a young person nowadays, sort of in the same way that Kate’s images were 20 years ago. This is something that you can be a part of, as long as you buy the underwear/jeans/swimwear/whatever the fuck they’re selling us. It’s an intangible cool.

Tyrone Lebon is a really fantastic photographer. He shot my favourite British Vogue editorial (in literally years) on location in Jamaica, linked in an upcoming post, and now he has shot this set of images. I think he has an interesting way of shooting people and it is rather distinct. I don’t know how to put into words what his photographs make me feel but I do know that I want to be a part of them. He makes everyone beautiful and soft and filtered, if that’s a way to describe things.

Apart from Bella Hadid’s images, I really like Anna Ewers’ set, Frank Ocean’s, Zoe Kravitz’s and Grace Coddington’s.

I wonder if these style of adverts will continue after a new creative director is appointed. Only time will tell.

The Meaning Behind the Name

I thought I should address the question of “what does your URL even mean?” because, hey, it doesn’t fully make sense. No, I don’t really think Kate Moss should be the President (she’s not even eligible, you know, as a Brit), nor do I think she has a political career ahead of her. It is in reference to an interview in George magazine that she did way back in 1997. I think I briefly glossed over the meaning of the name when I first switched to this domain name, but since that was a while back now and some of you may not have seen it, I thought I’d explain again.

George, now defunct, was a political publication that also dealt with celebrity (think Vanity Fair, sort of) that was started by JFK Jr. and his friend back in 1995. The cover often featured a female model or celebrity, and one image that is often circulated is of Kate Moss as Eve (the biblical one) from her 1997 cover, shot by once-boyfriend Mario Sorrenti. In the interview, Kate is hypothetically President of the United States and answers questions based on what she would do if she were in this position. For example, she is asked to name a reason to go to war (there isn’t one, in her words), what her first act in office would be, and what her favourite presidential perk would be. It’s all a bit of fun, whilst being mildly political – the whole aim of the magazine.

George itself was a rather short-lived magazine. You see, it was started in 1995 by John F. Kennedy Jr, the son of President Kennedy and Jackie Onassis. Because of this, it was an instant hit since the launch issue but popularity waned. The hype surrounding it probably came from the fact that it was JFK Jr. who started the publication as in the 90s, he was a big deal. The Kennedys were one of America’s foremost political families of the entire 20th century, producing a President, Senators, Governors, Mayors, Congressmen (basically any position of power, they’d held it). Although in 2015 they’re not so powerful, the Kennedys are still one of the most fabled clans, hence why the magazine is still available online (mainly on eBay). The magazine ceased publishing in 2001, 2 years after the death of co-founder Kennedy.

I thought I’d include the full interview plus the cover of the magazine, just so you all know what I’m talking about. Also, fun fact: the magazine is available for sale on eBay. Some guy is selling a bunch of George magazines for $4.99 each. For example, you could buy the Kate Moss cover, or you could buy a Drew Barrymore as Marilyn Monroe cover? Your choice. Unfortunately that particular seller only ships within the U.S. so if you live elsewhere, try searching on your country’s eBay or continue looking on eBay.com and just check the listing to see if international shipping is offered.

I hope this has clarified the meaning of the site name, and if you manage to get your hands on a back issue of the magazine: happy reading!

Vogue’s Lack of Cover Diversity

UPDATE: This post has been edited to remove Jourdan Dunn from the below list as it has been revealed that she is British Vogue’s February cover model. Definitely a step in the right direction although she does look eerily whitewashed. Lets put it down to the Instagram filter right?

As we bring in the new year and move into the future, it is only expected that we reflect back on the past. Vogue, both its US & UK editions, rather innocently posted an image of all of their covers from the year of 2014. However, this move prompted much backlash. Why? Because of the lack of model diversity. For British Vogue, there were zero women-of-colour; for American, there were just a few (including Rihanna, Lupita Nyong’o and Joan Smalls who was on the multi-model September issue cover). British Vogue has no excuse. They had 2 Kate Moss covers, 2 Cara Delevingne covers and actually, to their credit, a few models – but no non-whites. It may seem slightly trivial to call such attention to a matter as, seemingly, small as models on a magazine cover but really it is a big deal. Now, I do think it would be slightly unfair to call the Vogue staffers racist but their actions aren’t far off. It is not like there is any shortage of beautiful women-of-colour out there: talented models, actresses, and singers.

Can we call this racism? I think so. Unfortunately, 2014 was the year that we all realised that racism really isn’t dead. I rather naively thought that it wasn’t as rampant as it was 50 years ago but have been proven completely wrong. The high profile cases of police brutality against blacks in the USA have brought global attention to the issue and have led to widespread outcry. It is so fucked up, that’s the only way I can describe it. When you highlight major issues like that, it sounds rather silly to complain about models on a magazine cover but it is actually a major issue in its own right. In Britain, we are a very multicultural society; even more so in London, where British Vogue is based. From looking at the magazine covers from the past year, you would never know. There is zero representation of anybody that is not white and that really doesn’t make sense. I mean, at least American Vogue did a little bit better but really, it is still not good enough.

Instead of harping on about race issues, something that I feel completely under-qualified to do, I am going to suggest some suitable models/celebrities who I think are deserving of a cover. As I have said previously, there are plenty of women-of-colour who could/would/should be on the cover of Vogue but I am going to offer up a few suggestions.

  1. Naomi Campbell – It seems insane to even have to suggest Naomi, especially since she is one of the biggest supermodels ever. She is on the same level as Kate Moss, I’d say, who had 2 covers this year and countless editorials all throughout. Just to let you know, Naomi hasn’t had a British Vogue cover since the August 2002 issue.
  2. Imaan Hammam – Technically she has already graced the cover of Vogue in the past year but it was a multi-model cover and this time around she deserves a solo. I think Imaan is one of the most stunning models of recent and clearly has success ahead of her. She is Dutch but of Egyptian and Moroccan descent and has what is perhaps the best hair in fashion at the moment (those curls!!). PS – She’s in the Givenchy campaign this season which I have another post coming up about…
  3. Malaika Firth – Another British model who has only made it big in the past year or two, Malaika has walked many shows and has fronted campaigns for Burberry (alongside Cara Delevingne) and Prada, where she was the first black model to star in a Prada campaign in almost 20 years.
  4. Kerry Washington – Perhaps one of the most stunning actresses EVER, Kerry Washington has held her own in her part in the US-TV drama Scandal, a role in which she has received much acclaim (An Emmy, A SAG & A Golden Globe). She also made it onto TIME Magazine’s Most Influential People in the World list in 2014.
  5. Beyonce & Solange – This seems a bit too dreamlike but how amazing would a Beyonce & Solange shared cover be? The sisters would contrast each other with their totally different styles (Solange, edgy and very-much fashion/Beyonce, laid back and casual). Also, everybody knows that Beyonce rules the entire world so why not share some of that with her sister?

Best of 2014 – Vogue Editorials

As per last year’s post, of around the same time of year, I have decided to round up what I consider to be the best editorials of the year. In this post, I will deal specifically with the four big Vogue magazines: British, American, Italian & French. Although, historically, these magazines are considered the best of the Vogues, I’m not 100% sure that that is still the case. Vogue Nippon (Japan) and Vogue Russia are, in my opinion, shining as bright stars in terms of editorials (I have no idea about actual content, I can’t read either language). However, like last year, I’m going to use this post for the Big Four and a separate one for the other, smaller Vogue magazines along with the myriad other fashion publications, from the biggest to the most indie. Now I realise that this post will be very photo-heavy so apologies in advance if that is not your preference. To strike, what is hopefully, a balance, I will only post my favourite shots from each editorial and link the rest for you all to look at elsewhere. Let us commence!

BRITISH VOGUE

“Paradise City”

Models – Georgia May Jagger & Charlotte Free

Photographer – Tyrone Lebon

Stylist – Francesca Burns

See full editorial here.

See short film here.

“Santa Barbara”

Models – Andreea Diaconu & Ashleigh Good

Photographer – Josh Olins

Stylist – Clare Richardson

(This is probably my favourite British Vogue editorial of the entire year, Diaconu looks stunning all throughout).

See full editorial here.

“The Wolf in Her”

Model – Lara Stone

Photographer – Mario Sorrenti

Stylist – Kate Moss

See full editorial here.

See short film here.

Honorable mention to the Anna Ewers editorial “Two Weeks in September” which I have already made a post about previously. 

AMERICAN VOGUE

 “A Fine Romance”

Models – Lara Stone & Kit Harington

Photographer – Peter Lindbergh

Stylist – Tabitha Simmons

See full editorial here.

“The Feminine Mystique”

Model – Fei Fei Sun

Photographer – Peter Lindbergh

Stylist – Tonne Goodman

See full editorial here.

“The Dance of Seduction”

Models – Chanel Iman & A$AP Rocky

Photographer – Mikael Jansson

Stylist – Camilla Nickerson

See full editorial here.

VOGUE PARIS

“Un Week-End”

Models – Andreea Diaconu & Edita Vilkeviciute

Photographer – Mikael Jansson

Stylist – Anastasia Barbieri

See the full editorial here.

“Vent Du Nord”

Model – Andreea Diaconu

Photographer – Gregory Harris

Stylist – Veronique Didry

See full editorial here.

“L’Automne En Douce”

Model – Isabeli Fontana

Photographer – Scott Trindle

Stylist – Geraldine Saglio

See full editorial here. 

VOGUE ITALIA

“Horror Movie”

Models – Natalie Westling, Issa Lish & Bernd Sassmannshausen

Photographer – Steven Meisel

Stylist – Karl Templer

See full editorial here.

“Wild Chic Style”

Models – Langley Fox Hemmingway & Ruby Stewart

Photographer – Michel Comte

Stylist – Ayako Yoshida

See full editorial here.

As I have said before, there are many brilliant editorials in fashion publications that are not the Big Four Vogues. For that reason, another post choosing my favourites from the other magazines will be coming up shortly. Let me know what you think of my picks, are there any of your favourites that I missed?

When Fashion Meets Playboy – Kate Moss

After months of waiting Playboy’s 60th anniversary cover was finally unveiled at the start of December featuring none other than Kate Moss. I, for one, respect Playboy as a brand and a whole image idea that it projects. At least over the years it has been consistent and unchanged. Hugh Hefner is an idol to many men around the world and, even in old age, lives the life that many can only imagine. When a fashion icon and downright supermodel does a cover and editorial for arguably the most important men’s magazine, you know it is something not to be missed.

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There’s something about Kate Moss that has captured me over the years. Since a young age, she was everywhere I looked; in magazines, in shop windows, on bus shelters, all over. I didn’t mind being exposed to her at all as I was a fan. By the time I knew of her she was past the “heroin chic” phase and into her rock star boyfriend stage. I was struck by her beauty and her impeccable style. Even after seeing photos of her in the press smoking cigarettes or looking a little worse for wear, I wasn’t disenchanted – and I’m still not.

While nudity is pretty commonplace in fashion, it is uncommon for it to be done in a sexual way. Magazines and models alike tend to justify the nudity saying it is in an artistic way. Put a black and white filter on the picture, throw in some accessories (perhaps diamonds around the neck) and have considerably smaller breasts than your typical men’s magazine type model does – voilà! You have created an artistic, model-esque shot found in the pages of Vogue Paris and the likes.

What Kate has done is not daring per se, however it is not ordinary. If Kate was not Kate or somebody else of her status in the fashion world, she would not have been offered this cover. It is not often that fashion and pornography, what Playboy magazine is in the most simple terms, mix. Models, in general, do not have the body type that is seen to be attractive and alluring to your average male. In a completely stereotypical generalisation, men like the typical hourglass sex-symbol shape; the hard to achieve big breasts with the tiny waist and a petite but rounded derrière. Kate, like most other models, does not have the required components for this type of modelling yet she was chosen by Playboy, arguably the most iconic pornographic magazine, to do an anniversary cover.

What is different about Playboy than most other pornographic magazines is that it is less trashy than most. Playboy has a certain level of respect and prestige around it that many other publications don’t have. Over the years, Playboy has become a household name with the vast majority of people having a vague idea of what it is. If they do not know, I can almost guarantee that they recognise the bunny.

Over the years, numerous celebrities have posed for Playboy ranging from movie stars to wrestlers to lingerie models and everything Hollywood in between. What is rarer is when fashion and Playboy collide. Back in the 90s a couple of supermodels, including Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer, posed for the infamous magazine but they were already the typically sexy, beautiful type that was the in look of the time.

However, Naomi Campbell’s December 1999 cover was a different story. Naomi – as a model that is considered a true supermodel due to her infamy (both positive and negative for her), countless campaigns, versatility and her truly memorable catwalk strut -pushed the boundaries with her shoot. Shot by the famed photographer known for his vivid colours and surrealism David LaChapelle, Naomi’s spread seemed less pornographic and more artistic. With some subtle product placement, perhaps a Prada handbag held or a pair of Gucci boots encasing her feet, these images could have been found in a fashion magazine. Naomi’s spread didn’t seem like just your average Playboy spread, it was something more.

That is the same with Kate’s. Ok, maybe you aren’t excited. Everybody’s seen Kate Moss to some extent naked at one point or another, it’s not like she’s never done a nude shoot before. Hell, she even done a catwalk show topless eating a chocolate covered ice cream on a stick before; nudity is nothing new to her. However, what is different is the nature of this nudity.  This time it’s more overtly sexual and Kate suits it. It would be hard to find something negative to say about her in these photos, she looks damn good and that is undeniable. In the shoot she dons the iconic Playboy Bunny costume that one can only imagine the difficulty of getting into and actually looking good. The photograph themselves were shot by well-respected fashion photographers Mert & Marcus hence demonstrating another cross over between the World of Fashion and what can only be described as the World of Playboy.

Playboy, the all important client, appears to appreciate Ms Moss with the Editorial director Jimmy Jellinek saying “Having Kate Moss, a global icon and the most important supermodel of the past 25 years, appear on our cover makes the issue the perfect way to launch Playboy’s  next 60 years.” A statement like that and the photographic evidence to prove it, Kate makes a wonderful cover star and will surely sell masses of copies of the magazine, giving Playboy a remarkable jump into the numerous years ahead.

Marc Jacobs is selling a t-shirt with Kate’s cover printed on it. All proceeds go to the amFAR organisation to support aids research. They cost $35 USD and are available to buy here. (US and Canada only)

NSFW photographs of the editorial can be found here.